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Tony Rayson Q&A

Flt Lt Steve Barbour
We spoke with RAF Referee Tony Rayson for a question and answer session about his first season as a referee.

What made you want to get into refereeing?

I’ve always been involved in football; playing, coaching, and jumping in to referee as a favour in youth football. When I decided playing had passed me, and my children were moving into playing men’s football, I wanted to stay involved. I also wanted to give something back to football, so refereeing was a good option. It’s also an easy way to stay fit and healthy.

What opportunities to referee have the RAF given you?

I completed my referee course through the RAF in March 2022, using my Standard Learning Credits. They have since fully supported me through the promotion pathway and getting appointed in the Lincolnshire Services League and other fixtures within the military. There has been constant assistance on hand if required; the seminars are very well constructed and a must for referees to attend, if possible, as the information given and the support network they provide is invaluable.

Can you get involved with civilian leagues?

Yes, easily. I did my homework and worked out what fixtures and leagues I could assist with. I ended up refereeing Sunday morning football and then picking up U16 to U18 fixtures from Facebook pages, as there is short a shortage of referees. This allowed me to pick and choose a little dependant on my location and availability.

What have you found to be most difficult about being a referee?

I have refereed 66 games this year and been an assistant on 10 occasions. I have had 3 or 4 games where the constant complaining has made me question myself a little during the game. On all occasions the feedback was positive from the teams afterwards. It is hard to blank out the noise at times, but I would recommend taking things during the game with a
pinch of salt. I then have a few moments after the game to reflect on what I would potentially do differently moving forwards.

Congratulations on your double promotion this year – what made you want to register for promotion and how did you manage the balance between football and work/life?

As soon as I decided to become a referee, I wanted to test myself and get to the highest level possible, as soon as possible. Promotion from 7 to 5 took a fair bit of commitment, but there were still periods where I didn’t referee for 3 to 4 weeks due to work, so it just requires a plan of availability and a degree of chasing the games you need.

What has been your highlight as a referee this season?

I probably have three in truth. Being selected to referee the RAF Plate final in my 1st full year of refereeing, being appointed to the Lincolnshire Services League Division 1 final and being awarded the league’s official of the season. The fact that this is awarded by the club marks from each match throughout the season, and coming out top of the tree, is extremely satisfying and shows I’m doing things well.

How do you see your refereeing career progressing from here?
My plan is to aim for promotion from level 5 to 4 this year and carry on along the progression pathway to see where it can take me.

If you would like to get more information about refereeing within the RAF, please contact RAF FA Referee Development Officer, Sgt Richard King.


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